Don't Think Content Matters? One Example Why It Does. Even in this Economy.

We recently helped an member TalentQuest with a direct email marketing campaign. TalentQuest wrote a white paper titled "Creating Competencies That Matter". The HRmarketer Services Group designed their HTML email creatives and landing pages and distributed it to the opt-in email list of HR decision makers.

The result?

Within 24 hours, TalentQuest had over 400 downloads of the white paper with an open rate of 7.1% and a click-thru rate of 16.5%.

Are you kidding me?

Our campaigns always pull well (we're very good at this stuff) so I was not surprised this campaign did well. But I was very surprised at just how well the campaign did considering the shape of the economy and the fact that the email campaign went out the SAME DAY that (1) Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy (2) Merrill Lynch collapsed and was quickly bought by BofA and (3) AIG was spiraling downward and on the verge of failing.

Not what you would consider a great day to announce the availability of a new white paper.

But it was.

  1. In spite of the bad news on Wall Street, HR executives in NYC and around the country showed up to work to do their job.
  2. The white paper topic was a hot topic that resonated with human resource executives - and others. And as our research has shown, HR professionals are always in search of great content. Especially given the lack of leadership in the failing companies and the drive for HR to identify better talent through competency development (and other topics).
Simple as that (and the creatives were good as was the targeted list the white paper was sent to).

In fact, here is a short list of members that have recently leveraged content (e.g., white papers) in their direct email marketing campaigns - each of these companies generated at least 200 downloads in their campaigns:
You can see that the topics are all quite different yet the result was the same - lots of downloads - and leads.

Why more companies don't leverage content in their direct marketing campaigns is beyond me. It is the most cost-effective lead generating marketing activity that I am aware of.

Here is a quick 15-step list of best-practices for how to use content in your marketing and PR campaigns to generate visibility, traffic, leads and SEO.
  1. Writing a quality white paper on a very relevant topic that is on the minds of many HR decision makers (talent management).
  2. Narrowing the topic of the white paper to a particular industry that they happen to focus on (financial services).
  3. Focusing the white paper to a topic that has increased relevance to this industry (sluggish economy).
  4. Not making the white paper too promotional.
  5. In the white paper (at the end) place information about your company and have your company name and URL as a footer on every page of the white paper. And do not make the white paper promotional.
  6. Place the white paper on your website for free download. Link to it from the welcome page and other highly visible places (like a sidebar throughout the site).
  7. Require the bare minimum of contact information such as Name, Company and email on your registration form.
  8. On the Landing Page, place a summary of the white paper so search engine spiders/crawlers can find and index the page. Make sure the title and meta tags reflect your keywords.
  9. Announce the white paper in at least two press releases. One press release (or pitch) - we call these "traditional" press releases - is sent to appropriate journalists and provides a summary of the white paper and wy it is newsworthy. If you want to share the white paper with the media do not attach it to your email but link to it - and do not require them to fill out any forms to download it. You will then want to send at least one search-optimized press release directly to the Internet with links to your landing page for download. This release provides a sneak preview and compelling facts/trends/statistics to entice people to download the white paper.
  10. Place a copy of this press release on your own web site with links to your white paper landing page. If you have a newsletter, mention the white paper in the next issue. If you have a blog, blog about it.
  11. Send the white paper to a few key bloggers in your industry. You should personalize these emails and make sure to explain to the blogger why you are sending the white paper to them and how it may be of interest to his/her readers. Again, do not attach it to your email but link to it - and do not require them to fill out any forms to download it.
  12. Send a direct email to your house list announcing the availability of the white paper with a link to the landing page. I suggest you also rent a targeted opt-in list of HR decision makers (at least 5,000 - will cost you between $0.20 - $0.50 per email) and send the direct email to them as well. If you do not have a house list, rent a larger list of 10,000 or more.
  13. Recycle and revise the white paper into a 800 -1,000 word byline article and submit/publish in an industry trade magazine that accepts byline articles. HRmarketer members can find out which trades accept byline articles by searching their Media Outlets database.
  14. Consider also doing a webcast on the white paper topic. In fact, on your download page (see step 7) you can include a check box to register for the webcast that discusses the white paper content.
  15. Reload and repeat the above steps each quarter.
Good luck!

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